My “practice” novel is almost to the midway point.
I’ve been slogging through the past few chapters of A Voice from the Past as my characters face some emotional changes. They seem true to life in their expressions and quandaries, but somehow, at least to me, I want more from them. More action, more depth, more life. And direction. Maybe they want to call the shots, and I am battling them for control. I don’t know. I’m new to this. Remember? An amateur.
Yesterday, I found myself staring down one of my characters.
I wondered what to have them say next. In that moment, I realized once again how helpful the advice gleaned from the wonderful teachers at Mt. Hermon’s Christian Writers Conference was to me. The reason I could look my character in the eyes is because James Scott Bell taught us to develop characters by finding actual pictures of them from stock photos on the internet and answering questions about all the details of their lives.
Karen Ball, an avid coffee lover, explained that she creates characters by assigning how they like their coffee! She described making coffee for them and sitting in her writing studio drinking coffee with her characters. They come alive for her that way. Real coffee, real characters. Very cool!
So, I have a notebook with all my characters pictures and bio’s in it.
Whenever I need more from my characters, I go to the notebook and flip to that character’s page. Then I ask,
if you were real, what would you do or say right now?
It sounds a bit crazy. Maybe people would say eccentric. Okay, perhaps even neurotic. I say helpful. Necessary. Enlightening.
Now, if only they’d talk back…How do you make your characters come alive for you?